It's fair to say that the sharing economy has taken the world by storm in recent years. And before you screw up your face in confusion and ask the question that's surely on plenty of reader's lips – namely, 'what exactly is the sharing economy?' – just take a look around you! It's everywhere. It's in your online shopping services; it's in your line-up of go-to accommodation sites for traveling; it's in your gym membership management pages; it's even in your diet apps and daily routine tools.
In fact, one of the main complaints about the umbrella term 'sharing economy' is just how umbrella it's become. It's now used to refer to any transaction or deal or even activity that plays out in The Cloud. But that wasn't the initial meaning of the phrase, even if it was something similar.
For digital nomads, at least, the original meaning of the term sharing economy is the one that's most helpful. It refers to sharing platforms and joint-consumption ideas; anything that allows people to offer their own things and services to other people around the globe. With that in mind, it should be easy to see how sharing tools have drastically reduced the cost of moving around the planet, living and working as you go. To steal a phrase from the revered Dr. King: if you're a location independent worker, the chances are you've depended on oodles of sharing economy outlets before you've even finished breakfast.
In this article, we'll take a look at a couple of the ways in which the sharing economy can really transform and aid the life of a digital nomad, ranging from those all-important low-cost accommodation searches to seeking out travel connections and food. Check it out…
For the best bargains on accommodations both long-term and short
One of the most obvious sectors that the sharing economy has transformed over the last couple of decades is that of accommodation. Where once would-be globetrotters were limited to just a few holiday websites and the classic walk-in travel agent (remember those dog-eared hotel brochures? Argh), today there's myriad different ways to go searching for places to bed down abroad.
Many of these have carved their niche out precisely because of their embracing of the sharing economy principles. We're talking about sites like AirBnB or Couch Surfing, which allow people from all over the planet to put their own flats and homes on the travel market, whether that's for just one or two weeks at a time, or for longer sublets for months on end. We're also talking about big-name booking portals that allow private guesthouse owners access to thousands of customers. And we're talking about other interesting new ways to discover accommodation in your chosen nomad destination, like house sitting and help exchanges.
Just think how easy it is today to find that one-bedroom flat in the center of Barcelona; or to seek out a small condo in Thailand to suit your nomad needs. The sharing economy is responsible for opening up all these new and exciting doors (literally) to would-be travellers, not to mention driving down the price of accommodation by ensuring there's always a steady supply available, just at the click of a mouse!
Coworking spaces: the epitome of the sharing economy philosophy
While the sharing economy continued to transform the ways we book hotels, hostels and apartment rentals abroad, it also worked to create a whole new type of accommodation that's aimed solely at the digital nomad: coworking spaces.
These started out as just office spaces in major cities like LA, New York, London and Singapore, offering a desk, a speedy internet connection and unlimited (or at least until someone else drinks the last cup) coffee for a certain fee each month. Soon, the idea had developed and people were hatching ideas to run whole resorts for location independent workers, complete with the whole shebang of everything you need to relocate: a bed; a kitchen; a workspace; company – the list goes on!
In fact, it was precisely this awesome manifestation of the sharing economy that inspired us at LBW to start our own residential coworking space. Boasting everything from infinity pools overlooking the sands of Nicaragua to swinging hammocks in shaded decks, private double suites with bathrooms to leafy gardens kissed by the tropical breezes, we created somewhere we think nomads will want to come and set up the laptop for a day. It's a fine testimony to the power of the sharing economy, and we're darn proud of it too!
The sharing economy for cheap grub
It's not just in accommodation and services that the sharing economy has helped to make the life of digital nomads all the easier either. It's also in food. Yep, as online communities sprung up all over the planet, offering traveling nomads the chance to network, meet and mingle with locals (more on that side of things later), food sharing programs also became a common sight.
The aim? To get travellers eating and learning about local cuisine in the company of local people or expats. The method? The internet. The results have been startling, with oodles of meal sharing portals and pop-up kitchen websites to choose from. Most will require a small fee (you can often expect this to be far less than the cost of a meal in a restaurant) to be paid to your hosts. From then on in it's all enjoyment. You'll be invited to a local's house, share a local meal, get insider tips on a destination and even forge new friendships along the way. And that leads us neatly to our last point…
The sharing economy for company
One of the main complaints that levelled at digi nomads is the fact that they must always be lonely. And while even the most determined friend-forger and contented individual traveller can try to deny it, there certainly is something daunting about going at it alone and making your office on the road, especially if you don't have company.
Find more information on LBW's NomadLife here!
We believe that travel is not a reward for working, but the most valuable and impactful form of education for life. We aren’t just a travel company; we were built to introduce you to the rest of the world. LBW Travel is about more than taking vacation time. We connect you with people and offer experiences that will change the way you look at your world. Travel reminds us what is truly important: family, friendship, love, exploration and adventure.
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